A federal judge has decided to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline, to the delight of environmental activists all over the world. This is a huge win for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, who first filed a lawsuit against the pipeline in 2016. There were many mass protests that year regarding the pipeline, and the tribe alleged that the pipeline would pollute water that the tribe uses for drinking, fishing, and more. The Standing Rock Indian reservation is located in both North Dakota and South Dakota. It is the sixth-largest Indian reservation in the United States.
The judge, James Boasberg, ruled that the pipeline was in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA. Boasberg not only found that the permit should be scrapped, but also stated that the pipeline must cease operations and be emptied by August 5th. Boasberg previously ruled against the Army Corps of Engineers in March of this year, and demanded an environmental review of the pipeline.
If there was a Dakota Access pipeline spill of any kind, it would affect the Missouri River directly. This would not only affect the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, but millions of Americans that live downstream, as well. Jan Hasselman, an attorney for Earthjustice, stated that justice had been served after “four long years.” Hasselman expects the decision to be appealed.
Dakota Access LLC immediately requested a stay on the decision, stating that the judge would be shutting down a “major interstate pipeline.” However, Boasberg declined to reverse his position earlier today. Boasberg was appointed by former president Barack Obama, and he has ruled on a number of notable cases. For example, Boasberg ordered the release of Hillary Clinton’s controversial emails and dismissed a lawsuit that hoped to obtain Donald Trump’s tax returns.